After answering a few frequently asked questions about pet travel to Hong Kong in Part One of our Hong Kong Spotlight, we now turn our attention to another hot topic: Common obstacles that arise when tackling your dog or cat's relocation to Hong Kong.
Pet travel can be overwhelming no matter how prepared you are, so to help ease your family's transition to Hong Kong here are a few roadblocks to watch out for.
All pets will need an import permit in order to gain entry into Hong Kong and this can be tricky to obtain, so it's important to start early and follow protocol carefully. The permit is good for six months but it can take a few days to receive once you or your pet travel agent applies for it, and the permit must also be filled out in the right format in order to accurately reflect your pet's vaccination status and other important details. (Remember, PetRelocation can handle the import permit on your behalf if you decide to work with us!)
Finding a Pet Friendly Airline
As always, it's important to use a pet friendly airline when traveling internationally, and "pet friendly" means a carrier places a priority on the safety of pets during transit. The cargo area is pressure and temperature controlled, pets are the last to be loaded and the first to be removed upon arrival, and pets are kept in temperature controlled rooms and vehicles throughout the trip.
PetRelocation has a few preferred carriers that we use for our clients, including KLM, Lufthansa and United. Note that we do not recommend nonstop flights for pets traveling long distances -- this may be easier for human travel, but pets benefit greatly from having a layover where they can have a few hours to leave their crates for a bathroom, food and rest break.
For flying pets to Hong Kong, we recommend one of the above airlines and booking a route that allows for a layover. Still have questions or concerns? Evelyn and the rest of our team would be happy to assist with this task.
Manifest Cargo & Flying Separately From Your Pet
Pets entering Hong Kong must arrive via manifest cargo as opposed to in the cabin (the only exceptions may be for service animals). Keep in mind that not all Asian airlines meet our standards for pet friendliness or have the routing we desire, so this means you will probably end up flying separately from your pet when traveling to Hong Kong.
Another reason it often works better to fly separately is due to the early check-in time for pets as well as the fact that an approved customs broker has to receive the pet and oversee clearance upon arrival. These factors add several extra hours to a journey, and it's not necessary for the pet owner to be there during this time.
Though you may encounter restrictions when traveling with a brachycephalic breed, it's not impossible to move with a Pug, French Bulldog or another snub-nosed pet to Hong Kong. Finding an airline may be a little trickier, as some carriers don't accept certain breeds at any time and some only accept them during the cooler months (usually beginning after Sept. 15). Sometimes the only option is to fly over Europe with either Swiss Air or Lufthansa, so depending on where you're starting this could make for a longer (but still perfectly safe) trip.
Here are a few general tips for flying with snub-nosed pets, and as always, it helps to start planning nice and early in order to avoid any scheduling issues.
A few breeds, including Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Braziliero and their crossbreeds are outright banned from entering Hong Kong. If your dog resembles one of these breeds you will be required to show documentation illustrating they are not in fact one of the banned breeds (again, your relocation coordinator can oversee this for you).
Take a look at the rest of our Hong Kong Pet Travel Spotlight and contact our Hong Kong pet travel team if you're ready to start planning your pet's safe move!